Our first runner-up this week is a Winston & Strawn team led by Tom Melsheimer that worked pro bono alongside Disability Rights Texas to win an injunction enjoining Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s state-wide ban on mask mandates. Following a one-day bench trial in October, U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel in Austin last week handed a win to Winston’s clients, children with disabilities that make them more susceptible to complications from COVID-19, finding that Abbott’s executive order GA-38 violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. Yeakal wrote the executive order illegally prevented “disabled children from participating in and denies them the benefits of public schools’ programs, services, and activities to which they are entitled.” Partners Linda Coberly and Scott Thomas argued the case at trial alongside Melsheimer. The Winston team also included associates William Fox, Alex Wolens and Rob Green, of counsels Mike Gaddis and Brandon Duke, paralegal Danielle Sloan and litigation support project manager Evan Pratt

Also landing a runner-up spot are the plaintiffs’ lawyers who got final approval on a $626 million settlement on behalf of Flint, Michigan residents whose tap water was contaminated by lead after the city’s 2014 decision to change its water source in a cost-saving move. “The settlement reached here is a remarkable achievement for many reasons, not the least of which is that it sets forth a comprehensive compensation program and timeline that is consistent for every qualifying participant, regardless of whether they are members of a class or are non-class individuals represented by their own counsel,” wrote U.S. District Judge Judith Levy in Ann Arbor upon approving the settlement. Ted Leopold of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and Michael Pitt of Pitt, McGehee, Palmer, Bonanni & Rivers are co-lead counsel for the class and Hunter Shkolnik of Napoli Shkolnik and Corey Stern of Levy & Konigsberg serve as co-liaison counsel for the individual plaintiffs. Their request for more than $200 million in attorney fees remains pending.